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No Longer At Ease

No Longer At Ease

by Chinua Achebe

Principles Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

The oldest man present [of the Umuofia Progressive Union] broke one of them [kola nuts], saying another kind of prayer while he did it. "He that brings kola nuts brings life," he said. "We do not seek to hurt any man, but if any man seeks to hurt us may he break his neck." The congregation answered Amen. "We are strangers in this land. If good comes to it may we have our share." Amen. "But if bad comes let it go to the owners of the land who know what gods should be appeased." (1.37)

The men of Umuofia Progressive Union express their guiding principles here: that all good things come to them, and that bad things fall on others.

Quote #2

"The civil service is corrupt because of these so-called experienced men at the top," said Obi.

"You don't believe in experience? You think that a chap straight from university should be made a permanent secretary?"

"I didn't say straight from the university, but even that would be better than filling our top posts with old men who have no intellectual foundations to support their experience."…

"To most of them [educated young men] bribery is no problem. They come straight to the top without bribing anyone. It's not that they're necessarily better than others, it's simply that they can afford to be virtuous. But even that kind of virtue can become a habit." (2.27-29; 33)

Obi expresses his opinion that education breeds principles, in part because it offers opportunities that people would otherwise lack. If you lack those educational opportunities, but you still have ambition, you must seek advancement through corrupt methods.

Quote #3

Customs formalities here took thrice as long as at Liverpool and five times as many officials. A young man, almost a boy in fact, was dealing with Obi's cabin. He told him that the duty on his radiogram would be five pounds.

"Right," said Obi, feeling his hip pockets. "Write a receipt for me." The boy did not write. He looked at Obi for a few seconds, and then said: "I can be able to reduce it to two pounds for you."

"How?" asked Obi.

"I fit do it, but you no go get Government receipt."

For a few seconds Obi was speechless. Then he merely said: "Don't be silly. If there was a policeman here I would hand you over to him." (4.3-7)

Obi's return to Nigeria is immediately marked by corruption. He is approached by one of the customs officials for a bribe – but Obi clearly refrains, even though it will cost him more money.

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